The Ultimate Gift (2006)

On a trip through Blockbuster, I saw the trailer for this playing on the overhead monitors, and decided I needed to see this film. In the end, I was quite pleased that the trailer caught my attention, and I rented The Ultimate Gift.

James Garner plays Red, a wealthy Texas billionaire. A self made man, he made his fortune in oil, and cattle. The film starts at his death (similar to the book, The Codex), and his ungrateful family (which have never worked a day in their lives) are only interested in their inheritance. While each get enough to last them the rest of their lives, the last inheritee remaining is his grandson. Instead of dough, his grandfather leaves him a series of tests, which will result in The Ultimate Gift, hence the title. This grandson reminds me of a bunch of people (perhaps most recently the guy who got a Mercedes convertible for his medical school graduation, but quit residency a year later because it was too much work) with the trust fund, the fancy apartment, the trophy girlfriend, and the all night parties. In the end, he must up everything in order to achieve something. He is carefully guided along the way by videos from his deceased grandfather, under the watchful eye of his grandfather's longtime attorney, ably played by Danny Glover. Brian Dennehy, who I always enjoy, (especially after he came to my high school alma mater for fun one day), also turns in a strong performance as the grandfather's friend.

This film reminds me of that Warren Buffet quote as to why he was "only" leaving his children a million dollars each- "Enough money to do anything, but not too much that they will do nothing" (I may be paraphrasing it). The Ultimate Gift embodies this quote, and as the film develops, we see how the cash has corrupted his offspring, and how empty their lives really are.

My only real criticism is that I wanted to know more of the details. Apparently, it is based on a novel, and that may explain the editing. For example, why did the child and mother come to the funeral? Why did the girlfriend leave him after she saw the sizable check? How did the family come together at Thanksgiving? I guess it's a good sign that I am that intrigued that I wanted to know all the details, rather than waiting for the disc to end as is far too common these days.

The Ultimate Gift is a great film that everyone should see at least once. It is not only highly entertaining, but it has a message that plenty of folks could use. I'm looking forward to wanting to see it again, which is exceedingly rare for any film. Make sure you don't miss this one!

Overall Grade: A+



James Lynch said...

I haven't seen this movie, but the trailer makes it look like a uber-Christian preaching flick.

digitaldoc said...

Was not preachy, but a story about the value of money and an honest day's work. Both concepts are what made America great, and seem to be lost in today's society at times.